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5K Disappointment

October 9, 2012

Every October Microsoft runs a campaign to get employees to donate their time and money to charity. As part of this, they host a 5K run around campus. Running + Charity = AWESOME. Admittedly, I was at first turned off by the price ($55 is pretty steep for a no-frills 5K – upgrading to VIP for $75 got you a cotton t-shirt and water bottle), but quickly realized that benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue, Crohn’s and Collitis research, and a guide dog foundation was more than worth it!

Expectations:
I’m in the midst of marathon training which generally means long, slow distances, not optimal for relatively short, speedy races. This didn’t stop me from being pretty optimistic. I PR’ed in the 5K earlier this year and (not to toot my own horn) I’ve kind of been on fire in the running department since my half marathon. This 5K course is a little rough, but with the additional interval work I’ve been doing to cap off my strength training I though I had a decent shot at PR’ing. At one point I thought I may have even been able to break 24 minutes, a 46 second PR. But alas *spoiler alert* it was not meant to be.
Execution:
The sun was shining as my coworkers and I made our way to start of the race. I lined up at the back of the 7-8 minutes/mile heat. It was a fairly large race for the course size (over 2000 participants) so I did a slow shuffle after our heat was released to get to the starting line. Once I crossed the start, I was off! I knew the first mile was the easiest: on roads and downhill. My first mile would need to be under my goal pace if I had any hope of achieving my PR. Unfortunately, I may have been a little too aggressive and ended up with a 7:26. The mile markers were a little bit off, so I was concerned when I passed the first mile marker a good 30 seconds after my Garmin flashed a mile. But I kept on chugging. I focused on a runner ahead of me who looked calm and in control. I made it my goal to keep up with her. From the first mile, the course went slightly uphill. I managed to catch up with my unwitting pacer, but my speed was waning: 8:03. It became a struggle for me to keep pushing myself. I began to noticed how warm it was in the sun and how thirsty I felt.  I started to lose hope since I knew the last mile was pretty killer. It started with a steep decent on gravel. This meant controlling my speed to prevent running into others on the narrow path or slipping out. Then a sharp uphill on the gravel ending in a set of stairs. Killer. From there, it was about a half mile moderately uphill to the finish line. I kept on the tail of my chosen pace rabbit and tried to push myself to the end. The course narrowed a bit on the sidewalks so I had some additional bobbing and weaving between those who were fading at the end. I avoided the photographer at mile 3 knowing I probably did not look my best. 🙂 And so I rounded the last corner, giving it all I had. I crossed the finish line just the girl I was following and looked down at my  watch as it turned to 25 minutes. My final time was 24:58, 12 seconds slower than my PR and 58 seconds slower than I had hope for.

The Aftermath:

I got myself a bottle of water and made my way to the finish line. I hung around there cheering on my friends and coworkers for a bit before collecting swag from the sponsors. I knew that my training and the course had made PR’ing that day an unlikely feat but I still had a lot of fun. There’s always next time! Fortunately, I have a 10K in two weeks to redeem myself. Too bad I think it’s got a lot of hills as well!

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